The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness, to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
TBI can cause a wide range of functional short- or long-term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.
1. Thinking (i.e., memory and reasoning);
2. Sensation (i.e., touch, taste, and smell);
3. Language (i.e., communication, expression, and understanding); and
4. Emotion (i.e., depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).1
TBI can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.1
About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI.2
Repeated mild TBIs occurring over an extended period of time (i.e., months, years) can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. Repeated mild TBIs occurring within a short period of time (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.3
General Tips to Help Aid in Recovery:
1. Get lots of rest. Don’t rush back to daily activities such as work or school.
2. Avoid doing anything that could cause another blow or jolt to the head.
3. Ask your health care professional when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, or use heavy equipment, because your ability to react may be slower after a brain injury.
4. Take only the drugs your health care professional has approved, and don’t drink alcohol until your health care professional says it’s OK.
5. Write things down if you have a hard time remembering.
6. You may need help to re-learn skills that were lost. Your health care professional can help arrange for these services.4
1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Traumatic brain injury: hope through research. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health; 2002 Feb. NIH Publication No.: 02-158.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sports-related recurrent brain injuries—United States. MMWR 1997;46(10):224–227.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Facts about concussion and brain injury: Where to Get Help. 2010.